In the historical work “2 Years”, the Danish underground resistance publication in the German occupied Denmark that we recently published in this blog, we took a special note on page 6 of how rumours were spreading in the West, grounded in the silence from Stalin, and how they abruptly vanished once the historical speech was held on the 3rd of July 1941. There we reproduced a fragment of the speech. Now, thanks to the translated RIA Novosti publication (a news agency which is, incidentally censored in the freedom-of-speech-loving West), we can take a closer look at how that speech came to be.
The manuscript of Stalin’s appeal in connection with the beginning of the Second World War was published for the first time
03.07.2023 © RIA Novosti
The Presidential Library has published the manuscript of Stalin’s address in connection with the outbreak of the War
MOSCOW, July 3 – RIA Novosti. 82 years ago Joseph Stalin planned to begin the appeal to the Soviet people in connection with the Great Patriotic War strictly officially, confining himself to the word “comrades”, while the famous words “brothers and sisters”, “I am addressing you, my friends” did not sound according to the original handwritten text of the speech – this follows from its photocopy, published for the first time on the website of the Presidential Library.
According to historians, Stalin’s speech to the citizens of the USSR on the radio on the 3rd of July 1941 played an important role in the mobilization of the population in the initial period of the war. The text of the speech was prepared in an extremely short time span, and at a critical moment for the Soviet state: the situation at the front was catastrophic, on the 28th of June, Soviet troops left Minsk. On the 30th of June, at Stalin’s residence at the “Near Dacha” in Kuntsevo, a decision was made to create the State Defence Committee, which concentrated the full power in the country in its hands.
The text of the speech of the head of state with an appeal to the people in connection with the outbreak of war was compiled in the first days of July. The text, dictated by Stalin, was written down by his assistant Alexander Poskrebyshev using a simple pencil. Stalin also made edits and additions with just a pencil.
The radio broadcast was conducted directly from the Kremlin. At 6 a.m. on the 3rd of July 1941, the announcer of the All-Union Radio, Yuri Levitan, announced Stalin’s upcoming speech, after which he held the speech.
According to historians, one of the main features of that speech was the first occurrence of such a confidential appeal of Stalin to his compatriots at the very beginning: “Comrades! Citizens! Brothers and sisters! Soldiers of our army and navy! I am addressing you, my friends!”.
But, as it follows from the published document stored in the Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History, the original version of the speech only held an official address: “Comrades!”.
“Yes, it would be customary the address as “comrades” in any another situation. But the critical situation that had developed on the battlefields by the 3rd of July 1941 and threatened the existence of the country and the entire people, prompted Stalin to utter sincere words that came from within and then became famous, showing that the country’s leadership and ordinary people were united, which helped inspire society to fight the aggressor. And people were inspired and stood up for the motherland,” Mikhail Myagkov, scientific director of the Russian Military Historical Society, told RIA Novosti.
In his speech on the 3rd of July 1941, Stalin called on all the people to unite to defeat the enemy, noted the fact of Germany’s treacherous violation of the 1939 non-aggression pact, emphasized the heroic resistance of the Red Army in a “deadly battle” with the “bloody aggressor.” He refuted the thesis of the invincibility of the Wehrmacht, citing the example of the armies of Napoleon and Wilhelm II, stressing that “Hitler’s fascist army can also be defeated and will be defeated.”
In the text of his speech, the head of the Soviet state outlined a number of key tasks in the war that had begun: restructuring the economy in a military manner; providing the front with weapons, ammunition and food; fighting against the alarmists, deserters and enemy spies; creating partisan detachments and divisions of the people’s militia. Noting the fact that the war that has begun is not limited to the confrontation of the armies of the two states, but is a war against fascism, Stalin stressed that the peoples of Europe and America will help the Soviet Union.
As follows from the published document, Stalin added to the original version of the text of the speech the following words: “all the finest men and women of Europe, America and Asia, and, finally, all the finest men and women of Germany — denounce the treacherous acts of the German-fascists, sympathize with the Soviet Government”, “must selflessly join our patriotic war of liberation”, “it is also a great war of the entire Soviet people” (Stalin personally wrote the words “liberation” and “great”), etc. Some of the amendments made by the head of state during dictation were also written down by Poskrebyshev.
Myagkov explained why Stalin made the address to the country on the 3rd of July, and not on the 22nd of June – immediately after the start of the war.
“Liberal historians say to this day that Stalin did not address the country on the 22nd of June, allegedly because he fell into prostration, and therefore the People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Molotov spoke instead of him. Nothing of the kind! There are documents, statistics of visits to Stalin’s office, from which it is clear that the head of state worked hard both on the 22nd of June and in the following days,” said the scientific director of the RVIO.
“And the fact that Stalin spoke on the radio later has a logical explanation. Because it was necessary to get a picture of what was happening at the front, because the information was quite scattered, often unreliable. And by the 3rd of July, the situation had become pretty clear. In addition, by this time, the fullness of power in the USSR was concentrated at the State Defence Committee, and Stalin addressed the country as its chairman,” Myagkov added.
According to him, the confidential words of the head of state are especially important in the acute moments of history.
“This connection between the tops and the bottoms, between the leadership of the country and the army, between the government and the people should be of the tightest kind, there should be a real unification of everyone into a whole,” Myagkov said. “I especially remember the words of our President Vladimir Putin from his address on the morning of the 24th of June to the citizens of Russia in a situation that threatened to split the country. He said that as a President, as Commander-in-Chief, and as a citizen, he would do everything to defend the country, that we would save and defend what is dear and sacred to us, that we would overcome any trials. That is, he fully and completely spoke as part of the people,” he added.
And below is the complete text of the address, the translation re-published from Marxists.org
J. V. Stalin
July 3, 1941
Comrades! Citizens! Brothers and sisters! Men of our Army and Navy!
My words are addressed to you, dear friends!
The perfidious military attack by Hitlerite Germany on our Fatherland, begun on June 22, is continuing. In spite of the heroic resistance of the Red Army, and although the enemy’s finest divisions and finest air force units have already been smashed and have met their doom on the field of battle, the enemy continues to push forward, hurling fresh forces to the front. Hitler’s troops have succeeded in capturing Lithuania, a considerable part of Latvia, the western part of Byelorussia and part of Western Ukraine. The fascist aircraft are extending the range of their operations, bombing Murmansk, Orsha, Moghilev, Smolensk, Kiev, Odessa, Sevastopol. Grave danger overhangs our country.
How could it have happened that our glorious Red Army surrendered a number of our cities and districts to the fascist armies? Is it really true that the German-fascist troops are invincible, as the braggart fascist propagandists are ceaselessly blaring forth?
Of course not! History shows that there are no invincible armies and never have been. Napoleon’s army was considered invincible, but it was beaten successively by the armies of Russia, England and Germany. Kaiser Wilhelm’s German army in the period of the First Imperialist War was also considered invincible, but it was beaten several times by Russian and Anglo-French troops, and was finally smashed by the Anglo-French forces. The same must be said of Hitler’s German-fascist army of to-day. This army had not yet met with serious resistance on the continent of Europe. Only on our territory has it met with serious resistance. And if as a result of this resistance the finest divisions of Hitler’s German-fascist army have been defeated by our Red Army, this means that it too can be smashed and will be smashed, as were the armies of Napoleon and Wilhelm.
As to part of our territory having nevertheless been seized by the German-fascist troops, this is chiefly due to the fact that the war of fascist Germany against the U.S.S.R. began under conditions that were favourable for the German forces and unfavourable for the Soviet forces. The fact of the matter is that the troops of Germany, a country at war, were already fully mobilized, and the 170 divisions brought up to the Soviet frontiers and hurled by Germany against the U.S.S.R. were in a state of complete readiness, only awaiting the signal to move into action, whereas the Soviet troops had still to effect mobilization and move up to the frontiers. Of no little importance in this respect was the fact that fascist Germany suddenly and treacherously violated the non-aggression pact which she had concluded in 1939 with the U.S.S.R., regardless of the circumstance that she would be regarded as the aggressor by the whole world. Naturally, our peace-loving country, not wishing to take the initiative in breaking the pact, could not resort to perfidy.
It may be asked, how could the Soviet Government have consented to conclude a non-aggression pact with such perfidious people, such fiends as Hitler and Ribbentrop? Was this not an error on the part of the Soviet Government? Of course not! Non-aggression pacts are pacts of peace between two states. It was such a pact that Germany proposed to us in 1939. Could the Soviet Government have declined such a proposal? I think that not a single peace-loving state could decline a peace treaty with a neighbouring state even though the latter were headed by such monsters and cannibals as Hitler and Ribbentrop. But that, of course, only on the one indispensable condition-that this peace treaty did not jeopardize, either directly or indirectly, the territorial integrity, independence and honour of the peace-loving state. As is well known, the non-aggression pact between Germany and the U.S.S.R. was precisely such a pact.
What did we gain by concluding the non-aggression pact with Germany? We secured our country peace for a year and a half and the opportunity of preparing our forces to repulse fascist Germany should she risk an attack on our country despite the pact. This was a definite advantage for us and a disadvantage for fascist Germany. What has fascist Germany gained and what has she lost by perfidiously tearing up the pact and attacking the U.S.S.R.? She has gained a certain advantageous position for her troops for a short period of time, but she has lost politically by exposing herself in the eyes of the entire world as a bloodthirsty aggressor. There can be no doubt that this short-lived military gain for Germany is only an episode, while the tremendous political gain of the U.S.S.R. is a weighty and lasting factor that is bound to forth the basis for the development of outstanding military successes of the Red Army in the war with fascist Germany.
That is why the whole of our valiant Red Army, the whole of our valiant Navy, all the falcons of our Air Force, all the peoples of our country, all the finest men and women of Europe, America and Asia, and, finally, all the finest men and women of Germany — denounce the treacherous acts of the German-fascists, sympathize with the Soviet Government, approve its conduct, and see that ours is a just cause, that the enemy will be defeated, and that we are bound to win.
In consequence of this war which has been forced upon us, our country has come to death grips with its bitterest and most cunning enemy—German fascism. Our troops are fighting heroically against an enemy armed to the teeth with tanks and aircraft. Overcoming numerous difficulties, the Red Army and Red Navy are self-sacrificingly fighting for every inch of Soviet soil. The main forces of the Red Army are coming into action equipped with thousands of tanks and planes. The soldiers of the Red Army are displaying unexampled valour. Our resistance to the enemy is growing in strength and power. Side by side with the Red Army, the entire Soviet people is rising in defence of our native land.
What is required to put an end to the danger imperilling our country and what measures must be taken to smash the enemy?
Above all it is essential that our people, the Soviet people, should appreciate the full immensity of the danger that threatens our country and give up all complacency, casualness and the mentality of peaceful constructive work that was so natural before the war, but which is fatal to-day, when war has radically changed the whole situation. The enemy is cruel and implacable. He is out to seize our lands watered by the sweat of our brows, to seize our grain and oil secured by the labour of our hands. He is out to restore the rule of the landlords, to restore tsarism, to destroy the national culture and the national existence as states of the Russians, Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Esthonians, Uzbeks, Tatars, Moldavians, Georgians, Armenians, Azerbaijanians and the other free peoples of the Soviet Union, to Germanize them, to turn them into the slaves of German princes and barons. Thus the issue is one of life and death for the Soviet State, of life and death for the peoples of the U.S.S.R.; the issue is whether the peoples of the Soviet Union shall be free or fall into slavery. The Soviet people must realize this and abandon all complacency; they must mobilize themselves and reorganize all their work on a new, war-time footing, where there can be no mercy to the enemy.
Further, there must be no room in our ranks for whimperers and cowards, for panic-mongers and deserters; our people must know no fear in the fight and must selflessly join our patriotic war of liberation against the fascist enslavers. Lenin, the great founder of our state, used to say that the chief virtues of Soviet men and women must be courage, valour, fearlessness in struggle, readiness to fight together with the people against the enemies of our country. These splendid virtues of the Bolshevik must become the virtues of millions and millions of the Red Army, of the Red Navy, of all the peoples of the Soviet Union.
All our work must be immediately reorganized on a war footing, everything must be subordinated to the interests of the front and the task of organizing the destruction of the enemy. The peoples of the Soviet Union now see that German fascism is untamable in its savage fury and hatred of our native country, which has ensured all its working people labour in freedom and prosperity. The peoples of the Soviet Union must rise against the enemy and defend their rights and their land.
The Red Army, Red Navy and all citizens of the Soviet Union must defend every inch of Soviet soil, must fight to the last drop of blood for our towns and villages, must display the daring, initiative and mental alertness that are inherent in our people.
We must organize all-round assistance to the Red Army, ensure powerful reinforcements for its ranks and the supply of everything it requires; we must organize the rapid transport of troops and military freight and extensive aid to the wounded.
We must strengthen the Red Army’s rear, subordinating all our work to this end; all our industries must be got to work with greater intensity, to produce more rifles, machine-guns, guns, cartridges, shells, planes; we must organize the guarding of factories, power stations, telephonic and telegraphic communications, and arrange effective air-raid protection in all localities.
We must wage a ruthless fight against all disorganizers of the rear, deserters, panic-mongers and rumour-mongers; we must exterminate spies, sabotage agents and enemy parachutists, rendering rapid aid in all this to our extermination battalions. We must bear in mind that the enemy is crafty, unscrupulous, experienced in deception and the dissemination of false rumours. We must reckon with all this and not fall victims to stratagem. All who by their panic-mongering and cowardice hinder the work of defence, no matter who they may be, must be immediately haled before a military tribunal.
In case of a forced retreat of Red Army units, all rolling stock must be evacuated, the enemy must not be left a single engine, a single railway car, not a single pound of grain or gallon of fuel. The collective farmers must drive off all their cattle and turn over their grain to the safe keeping of the state authorities for transportation to the rear. All valuable property, including non-ferrous metals, grain and fuel that cannot be withdrawn must be destroyed without fail.
In areas occupied by the enemy, guerilla units, mounted and on loot, must be formed; sabotage groups must be organized to combat enemy units, to foment guerilla warfare everywhere, blow up bridges and roads, damage telephone and telegraph lines, set fire to forests, stores and transports. In occupied regions conditions must be made unbearable for the enemy and all his accomplices. They must be hounded and annihilated at every step, and all their measures frustrated.
The war with fascist Germany cannot be considered an ordinary war. It is not only a war between two armies, it is also a great war of the entire Soviet people against the German-fascist armies. The aim of this national patriotic war in defence of our country against the fascist oppressors is not only to eliminate the danger hanging over our country, but also to aid all the European peoples groaning under the yoke of German fascism. In this war of liberation we shall not be alone. In this great war we shall have true allies in the peoples of Europe and America, including the German people which is enslaved by the Hitlerite misrulers. Our war for the freedom of our country will merge with the struggle of the peoples of Europe and America for their independence, for democratic liberties. It will be a united front of the peoples standing for freedom and against enslavement and threats of enslavement by Hitler’s fascist armies. In this connection the historic utterance of the British Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, regarding aid to the Soviet Union, and the declaration of the United States Government signifying readiness to render aid to our country, which can only evoke a feeling of gratitude in the hearts of the peoples of the Soviet Union, are fully comprehensible and symptomatic.
Comrades, our forces are numberless. The overweening enemy will soon learn this to his cost. Side by side with the Red Army many thousands of workers, collective farmers and intellectuals are rising to fight the enemy aggressor. The masses of our people will rise up in their millions. The working people of Moscow and Leningrad have already begun to form huge People’s Guards in support of the Red Army. Such People’s Guards must be raised in every city which is in danger of enemy invasion; all the working people must be roused to defend with their lives their freedom, their honour and their country in this patriotic war against German fascism.
In order to ensure the rapid mobilization of all the forces of the peoples of the U.S.S.R. and to repulse the enemy who has treacherously attacked our country, a State Committee of Defence has been formed and the entire state authority has now been vested in it. The State Committee of Defence has entered on the performance of its functions and calls upon all our people to rally around the Party of Lenin and Stalin and around the Soviet Government, so as to render self sacrificing support to the Red Army and Red Navy, to exterminate the enemy and secure victory.
All our forces for the support of our heroic Red Army and our glorious Red Navy!
All the forces of the people for the destruction of the enemy!
Forward to victory!